College instructor spots ‘unusual jelly’ on Vancouver Island beach

Creatures found drifting around in the shallows, far away from their element

It’s not often Laura Verhegge gets stumped by a mysterious sea creature.

Yet on a beach outside of Victoria over the weekend, the biology and marine sciences instructor at Pearson College encountered some unusual jellies – around four of them – that had her scratching her head.

Verhegge was taking a stroll through the waters of Weir’s Beach in Metchosin, by the shoreline she’d gotten to know over 18 years, when she made her vexing find. She decided to post the pictures to Twitter for help.

ALSO READ: 10-foot-long shark washes ashore in North Saanich

The images show the jellyfish’s spherical shape and some internal structures, minus the tentacles. “Gorgeous. Looks like a perfect paperweight (if made in glass),” one person replied.

Louise Page, an associate professor who teaches invertebrate biology at the University of Victoria, thinks she may have the answer. The tip off may be the bits of orange seen inside the creature. “My best guess is that it’s a baby lion’s mane jellyfish,” she said.

Also referred to as Cyanea capillata, the creatures can get up to a meter wide across the bell and have tentacles that stretch out eight meters. It would take these babies just a year or two to reach that size, she said.

ALSO READ: 70 babies found inside North Saanich Shark

“People are probably familiar with seeing much larger specimens washed up on the beach,” Page added. The jellyfish population is increasing, particularly the lion’s mane, leading to a lot more of them being spotted washing up over the last few years, she said.

While the jellyfish look different from a lion’s mane to her, Page’s guess seems to make sense, Verhegge said.

“We see them around in the fall. I mean, it’s possible – it is possible. I would trust her.”

ALSO READ: Parksville’s mystery cowboy revealed

The creatures were swimming – or rather, drifting around – in the shallows when Verhegge found them, far and away from their element. “It’s not great for jellies to be in the swash zone; they’re happier out in the open ocean,” she noted.

Yet Weir’s Beach is a place where all kinds of “bizarre” things wash up, she added. The juveniles likely had been washed in by the current.“I think it was kind of bad luck for the individuals. Yeah, because they won’t survive.”

Unfortunately, she said the creatures would likely dry out during low tide.

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Terrace RCMP respond to firearms call on South Side

One person arrested without incident

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine office in Terrace is now open to the public

The office has been closed since March 17 due to COVID-19

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

BC Hydro studying new power connection in northwest B.C.

Would supply hydro-electric power to planned LNG plant at Kitimat

City increasing maximum business license fine

Maximum unlikely to ever be used, according to City

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read